Savor ‘careful what you wish for’ moments


I have big ideas for the years to come — monstrous plans about things to do and places to see. It’s a list that has been growing over the past several decades. Experiencing the Northern Lights in Alaska made the cut. So did hiking through the Grand Canyon, and seeing polar bears in the Arctic Circle. In my mind, they’ll be the perfect excursions, full of thrilling surprises and life-changing adventures. Thoughts of them pop up from time to time, especially when life delivers a challenge that has me pondering a getaway.

Getting away had a different meaning when the Schlueterville sons, Rocket and Magnet, were little. About the time I unearthed a gym sock-turned-weapon-ofmass- destruction from under a bed, someone was crashing a bike in bloody splendor, or super gluing his fingers together building model airplanes. Toss in dog barf on the living room rug and a flat on the car moments before someone was due for a doctor appointment, and I’d find myself dreaming of a backpack and a compass pointing somewhere else.

I now consider those “be careful what you wish for” moments. They were the ordinaryyet- extraordinary flotsam of life.

Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and I have been empty-nesters since we moved our youngest son to college in 2009. And while the college years have been a complete blast of fantastic activity, their personality is diametrically opposite from the 18 years preceding their arrival.

Now I don’t want to give the wrong impression. Hunka and I have adored being parents from the moment the doctor handed the boys to us in the delivery room. We loved watching them grow in body and mind as they sped through the years like runaway freight trains. But the frenetic activity of raising a family can distract you from the bottomless joy tucked inside the messes, stresses, smells and noise.

It is during those times that life presents itself like a marching band. But if you’re too worried about the lines being straight and everyone marching in step, you might just miss its breathtaking melody. I’d like to think that I could recall every tune that played in Schlueterville while my kids grew up, but I know there were times when I was lost in parenthood’s inevitable distractions.

And suddenly our kids were out the door. The span of time between bringing them home from the hospital and moving them to college felt like 15 minutes.

I had an Alaskan-sized heartache until I realized that the marching band had mysteriously become a world-class symphony. Somewhere along the line, the Schlueterville sons became adults, complete with ethics and qualities Hunka and I spent years trying to instill — faith, perseverance, humor, dependability and respect. We relate to them now more as friends and partners, solving the world’s problems through football and politics. We’re still a tight-knit family, but our sons increasingly take the lead in a way that assures us they are fully capable of meeting the challenges life will throw in their paths.

And that’s a place that is far more beautiful and fulfilling than the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon and polar bears combined.

So enjoy every messy, chaotic moment, families with tikes and teenagers. Cheer up, recent or soon-to-be empty-nesters. Parenthood is a wonderful adventure at every stage.


Tamera Schlueter

Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.

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